Just Read… Quieter Than Killing, by Sarah Hilary

Quieter Than Killing

It’s winter, the nights are dark and freezing, and a series of seemingly random assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out onto streets of London. When Marnie’s family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by someone who knows her. Then a child goes missing, yet no-one has reported it. Suddenly, events seem connected, and it’s personal.

Someone out there is playing games. It is time for both Marnie and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. Keeping quiet can be a means of survival, but the effects can be as terrible as killing.

It’s been just 3 years since Sarah Hilary published her debut, Someone Else’s Skin, and in that time she has become a well-respected British crime author, and it’s easy to see why.

Marnie Rome and Noah Jake are interesting characters, with well-developed personal histories (Marnie’s psychotic foster brother, Stephen, is in prison for the murder of her – and his foster – parents), that add very rich layers to a crime thriller that already has plenty. And I think that is one of Sarah’s great skills; she develops her characters, and not just the protagonists, in a way that really helps the reader engage.

There are lots of dark places visited in this book, from abduction to vigilantism, and we are led through them as the story seems to present an increasingly complex case for our detective duo to solve. But one that could be very personal, as following the ransacking of Marnie’s family home, there appears to be a very strong link to Stephen.

A great book, made even more interesting for readers of the previous books with the additional exploration of Marnie and Stephen’s past.

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Just Read… Then She Was Gone, by Luca Veste

The She Was Gone

Tim Johnson took his baby daughter out for a walk and she never made it home. Johnson claims he was assaulted and the girl was snatched. The police see a different crime, with Johnson their only suspect.

A year later, Sam Bryne is on course to be elected as one of the youngest MPs in Westminster. He’s tipped for the very top … until he vanishes.

Detectives Murphy and Rossi are tasked with discovering what has happened to the popular politician – and in doing so, they unearth a trail that stretches into the past, and crimes that someone is hell-bent on avenging.

Luca Veste uses masterful strokes to paint not only a vivid portrayal of his hometown, Liverpool, but also a gritty tale of intrigue and revenge.

Clearly the two stories of the missing baby girl and Sam Byrne are linked (and that’s not for me to tell you how), and to begin with it isn’t always clear where the author wants to take us, but once things get going, we are drip-fed information at just the right pace to ensure this dark police procedural is a page-turner.

Although this is the 4th Murphy and Rossi novel it can easily be read as a standalone.

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Just Read… The Damselfly by SJI Holliday

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An unsolved murder. A community turned against each other. A killer close to home…

Katie Taylor is the perfect student. She’s bright and funny, she has a boyfriend who adores her and there are only a few months left of school before she can swap Banktoun for the bright lights of London. Life gets even better when she has an unexpected win on a scratch card. But then Katie’s luck runs out.

Her tragic death instead becomes the latest in a series of dark mysteries blighting the small town. The new school counsellor Polly McAllister, who has recently returned to Banktoun to make amends in her own personal life, is thrown in at the deep end as the pupils and staff come to terms with Katie’s death. And it’s not long before she uncovers a multitude of murky secrets. Did Katie have enemies? Is her boyfriend really so squeaky clean? And who is her brother’s mysterious friend?

With Banktoun’s insular community inflamed by gossip and a baying mob stirring itself into a frenzy on social media, DS Davie Gray and DC Louise Jennings must work out who really murdered Katie before someone takes matters into their own hands…

This is the third book in Susi Holliday’s Banktoun trilogy (I’ve reviewed the first two books, Black Wood and Willow Walk previously), and it’s a cracker. Local Banktoun sergeant, Davie Gray, is now a detective and is back in town to work on Katie’s shocking murder case.

The fictional town of Banktoun continues with its claustrophobic feel, with everyone knowing everyone’s business. A lot of the story centres around Katie’s school, where new counsellor, and returning Banktoun resident, Polly McAllister, is trying to help Katie’s fellow pupils deal with the recent tragic events.

This book is darker than the first two, and shows the impact social media rumours can have on a town. The Damselfly is a great page turner that keeps you guessing until the end. And that ending will make you shout, “Woah!”

Another fab book from SJI Holliday.

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Two top tactics for plotting and editing

Great blog post on plotting and editing by Lynne Milford.

L.M. Milford

Whether you’re writing something brand new or breathing life back into a manuscript you’ve found languishing in a drawer, getting started can be tough. Keeping track of your story line and getting balance right is always difficult. However, courtesy of Roz Morris I’ve found a couple of tactics that really work.

Plotting Book Two

The card game

This is probably something that you’ve heard of but if not, let me explain. Take a pack of index cards and a felt tip pen and write a short note on each card of what’s in a scene. Once you’ve got them all written down, you can start to play. Lay out all the cards in the order they come in – or that you think they come in. You’ll need a large table or area of floor for this bit. Once you’ve done that and taken a step back, it’ll become clear…

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Plotting with dialogue

Plotting with dialogue: a really interesting blog post from Janet Gover over on Take Five Authors.

Take Five Authors

The closest I usually get to plotting is a few scribbled notes on odd bits of paper. And usually this starts when the book is half done. The closest I usually get to plotting is a few scribbled notes on odd bits of paper. And usually this starts when the book is half done.

Whenever a few writers get together, at some point the age old question is going to come up…. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

This of course refers to our way of working. Do you plot the novel in detail in advance or do you just sit down and fly by the seat of your pants. I tend towards the latter, but in either case, the hope is that the result will be a novel. A good one with realistic characters and a gripping plot.

Last week I was confronted by a sort of third option – plotting with a few lines of dialogue. This a really intriguing idea came from Sophie Weston, who has sold about 12 million books world-wide…

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Just Read… Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinborough

behind-her-eyes-by-sarah-pinborough

Don’t Trust This Book

Don’t Trust These People

Don’t Trust Yourself

And whatever you do, DON’T give away that ending…

Louise

Since her husband walked out, Louise has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job. But all that changes when she meets…

David

Young, successful and charming – Louise cannot believe a man like him would look at her twice let alone be attracted to her. But that all comes to a grinding halt when she meets his wife…

Adele

Beautiful, elegant and sweet – Louise’s new friend seems perfect in every way. As she becomes obsessed by this flawless couple, entangled in the intricate web of their marriage, they each, in turn, reach out to her.

But only when she gets to know them both does she begin to see the cracks… Is David really is the man she thought she knew and is Adele as vulnerable as she appears?
Just what terrible secrets are they both hiding and how far will they go to keep them?

Despite only being published on Thursday, this book has been trending for a while with the hashtag #WTFthatending. I’ve just read that ending, and all I can say is that is the perfect hashtag!

Sarah Pinborough is a journalist and accomplished novelist. I’ve previously reviewed The Death House, The Language of the Dying and owe her a review for 13 Minutes, which I listened to on Audible just before Christmas. These books all have a hint of… well not supernatural, but out of the ordinary I guess. Behind Her Eyes is no different.

A psychological thriller, the story follows the increasingly complicated relationship that Louise has with her boss, David, and his wife Adele. But things are rarely as they seem, and as we watch Louise get drawn deeper and deeper into a two-pronged relationship, we uncover more and more about David and Adele’s past. The story is told through the alternating eyes of Louise and Adele. We get to see what they’re seeing, and also what they’re thinking. Not all of it though.

Behind Her Eyes is everything a psychological thriller should be. Taut, twisted, and with an ending that’s like a blow to the head with a bat. Simply stunning! 

My prediction: This book is going to be huge in 2017!

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Just Read… Watch Her Disappear, by Eva Dolan

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YOU CAN RUN FROM YOUR PAST. BUT YOU CAN’T RUN FROM MURDER.

The body is found by the river, near a spot popular with runners.

With a serial rapist at work in the area, DI Zigic and DS Ferreira are initially confused when the Hate Crimes Unit is summoned to the scene. Until they discover that the victim, Corinne Sawyer, was born Colin Sawyer.

Police records reveal there have been violent attacks on trans women in the local area. Was Corinne a victim of mistaken identity? Or has the person who has been targeting trans women stepped up their campaign of violence? With tensions running high, and the force coming under national scrutiny, this is a complex case and any mistake made could be fatal…

This is the fourth book in Eva Dolan’s Zigic & Ferreira series, set in and around Peterborough. Corinne’s body was found in Ferry Meadows (been there!) and the Hate Crimes Unit need to find her killer. Was the murderer a family member, or was the attack related to the recent spate of hate crimes against the trans community?

In Watch Her Disappear, Dolan entwines a murder mystery with an exploration of the effects changing genders can have on a family, with husband/father Colin having become wife/mother, Corinne.  The author doesn’t shy away from sensitive subject matter, and has a reputation for addressing such with her own sensitivity and skill, which has been noticed by the Scottish Godfather of Crime Fiction, Ian Rankin: “Another writer, Eva Dolan, does very similar things with social issues. I love all these young writers, these young whippersnappers.”

Mr Rankin has good reason to love Eva Dolan. Her writing style is great: easy to read with story lines that pull you along. Although this is Zigic & Ferreira book 4, there is no problem with reading it as a standalone; no prior knowledge of the characters is necessary.

Watch Her Disappear will hit the shelves on Thursday 26th January 2017. Thanks to Harvill Secker for sending me this advance reader copy.

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